RITE OF PASSAGE: Pet Smart
In December, my wife and I will celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. At least I think it will be our 35th. It might be our 34th . . . no, it is our 35th. I’m glad I took time to check. It would be awfully embarrassing to give her a card that said “Happy 35th Anniversary!” only to discover it was our 34th.
These days, I prefer not to give cards that show any numbers. After as many years as we’ve enjoyed together, I only buy the kind that read, “Happy Anniversary.” So far, my wife has never asked for the number. I imagine she avoids doing so for at least two reasons: first, she knows doing the math would overload my underdeveloped brain; and second, she realizes my guilt would drive me to buy her a toaster or a waffle maker as a way of atoning for my mistake. I am still a good giver, but a lousy gift-chooser. But I still maintain that nothing says “I’m sorry” like a Belgian Waffle Maker.
This year, Cathy has already informed me she doesn’t want jewelry, flowers or any of the standard choices. What she wants instead is a dog. Our youngest son and his wife have already promised to buy her one. My wife and I have had a dog most of our married life. Allow me to clarify: she has had a dog most of our married life. When we first got married, she had a beautiful Labrador retriever, but someone stole it. I say this because if it had run away on its own, it would have left a note. Not long afterward, we had our first child. Of course, every child needs a dog, so I got one . . . for my wife and kids. This first family pet was a dachshund, popularly known as a “weenie dog.” She was no ordinary animal but a miniature, long-haired beauty.
Our beloved Ginger lived to be nearly 14 years old. You may not realize it, but dachshunds are smart dogs. They know when to die. Ginger didn’t leave us when the family was around. No, she waited until my family went home to see the grandparents and left her with me. As soon as the car backed down the driveway, she began to act funny. I took her to the vet, who told me that her kidneys had shut down and we needed to put her to sleep.
When my wife and sons came home, I had the job of greeting them with the bad news. Of course, the only way you can get your family to stop crying over the death of one pet is to replace it with another. I have decided there must be puppies in Heaven, because a puppy was the one thing that could wipe away my family’s tears. We piled into the car and set out to get another dog exactly like the one we had lost. Beautiful Brandy graced our family with her presence for 13 years.
Today, our sons are grown and have homes of their own. Our second dachshund has been gone for some time. Cathy and I are back where we started in our marriage, and she wants . . . another pet.
I wonder if Jesus had a pet. The Bible does not address this, but it does say He is the Creator of all things (Col. 1:16). Animals certainly played a big part in His life. After He was born, His mother placed Him in a manger (Luke 2). The Holy Spirit descended on him in the form of a dove (Matt. 3:16, Mark 1:10, Luke 3:22, John 1:32). His conversation centered around animals, too. He told his disciples He would make them “fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19, Mark 1:17). He used fish to perform a miracle when he fed the 5,000 (Matt. 14).
He told another group it was easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God (Mark 10:25, Luke 18:25). John said that when Christ returns, He will ride a white horse (Rev. 19:11). Scripture even refers to Jesus as the “Lion of Judah” (Rev. 5:5).
I have always wanted to do right by my family, so I made sure we had pets. Through the years, the Moore household has included turtles, fish, birds, dogs and a creature that looked like a fuzzy rat on steroids. But more than anything else, I wanted to make sure my family knew the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). No matter how much we love them, our pets will come and go. But our relationship with the Lamb lasts . . . forever.